Well, that’s over. You cast your vote — or ignored the opportunity to do so — and if you did, you can sit back and be proud of your role in the democratic process. Your municipality — if it had enough interested candidates for there to be an election instead of acclamation — is firmly in someone else’s hands for the next four years.
And you can move on to other things. Well, not quite. There’s much more you can do, and much more you should do. At least, there’s much more you should do if you believe in the concept of a supportive, involved democratic community.
It has somehow become acceptable in our little section of Western civilization — heck, in much of Western civilization — to view everything solely through our own personal lens.
What matters to many people extends little further than their own front door: my job, my family, my kids’ schools, my vacation, my entertainment, my potholes, my health care. We have enshrined personal greed as success, without realizing that very action undermines our ability to be stronger together.
Why is it acceptable that what happens next door or down the street, five blocks away or in another part of the province or country matters far less? Unless, of course, it’s something that then happens to us, as well.
That’s not how community works.
During the next four years, and maybe as early as the next municipal council is sworn in, there will be decisions to be made, positions to be taken, public comment gathered and directions set. Those directions and decisions will affect us all in larger and smaller ways. Last week’s paved wetland somewhere upstream carries the potential of next year’s neighbourhood of flooded basements. Next month’s infrastructure investment carries with it the possibility of becoming a decade’s worth of white elephant.
Through it all, you’ll see time after time when councils say, “we asked for input and heard nothing back” as a defence for mistakes made.
So, if you’ve actually taken the effort to vote, why not plan to be more involved with municipal politics? Send emails — or letters, if you like. If there are areas where you can lend your skill or expertise, do it. Municipal councils can’t be allowed to work in a vacuum. After all, they’re elected to work for you, and if they won’t listen when you speak out, well, you know what to do when the next election arrives.
It’s bad enough that it’s more and more of a struggle to get people to do something as simple and painless as voting in a modern-day election. It’s much worse when community is thousands of little me-islands, worlds that spring into action only when the threat appears at their own door.
Did you get involved in the election? Well, stay involved. Be heard.